Culinary guru and three-time James Beard award-winner Dorie Greenspan shares recipes from her first cookbook dedicated solely to cookies!
Dorie will demonstrate more recipes and sign books today at 2 pm at Sur La Table in Kirkland. To reserve a spot at today's event either call 800-243-0852 or CLICK HERE.
French Vanilla Sablés (makes 30 cookies)
- 2 sticks (16 tablespoons; 8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour
- Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars and the salt on medium speed for about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. The mixture should be smooth, but not fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and, one by one, beat in the yolks followed by the vanilla. Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour all at once and pulse the mixer until the risk of flying flour has passed. With the machine on low, mix just until the flour disappears into the dough. Give the dough a couple of turns with a sturdy flexible spatula.
Turn the dough out onto the counter, divide it in half, gather each piece into a ball and shape into a disk.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough 1/4-inch thick between sheets of parchment. Slide the parchment-sandwiched dough onto a baking sheet (you can stack the slabs of dough) and freeze for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Wrapped airtight, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 months or refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter (or spray) the molds of a regular-size muffin tin (or use nonstick) if you’ve got two tins, use both of them – and have a 2-inch cookie cutter at hand.
Working with one sheet of dough at a time, peel away both sheets of paper (it’s hard to cut the dough otherwise); put the dough back on one sheet. Cut the dough and drop the rounds into the muffin tin. The rounds might not fill the muffin tins completely now, but they will once they bake. Save the scraps.
Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sanding sugar.
Bake the cookies for 16 to 19 minutes, or until they feel firm to the touch and are golden brown around the rims. Transfer the muffin tin(s) to a rack and let the cookies rest for about 10 minutes before carefully lifting them out and onto the rack to cool to room temperature.
Continue with the remainder of the dough. Gather the scraps together, re-roll, chill, cut and bake, always using cool tins.
Storing: The cookies will keep in a tin at room temperature for about 5 days. If you haven’t dusted the sablés with sugar, they can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. Because the sugar will melt in the freezer, decorated cookies are not suitable for freezing.
Playing around: Slice and Bake Sablés. While these will be too higgledy-piggledy to turn into Jammers or anything else that’s structured, they’ll be delicious to enjoy any way you’d like. When the dough is mixed, divide it in half and shape each half into a log that’s about 9 inches long. Wrap the logs and freeze for at least 3 hours. When you’re ready to bake, slice the logs into cookies about 1/3-inch thick. Place them about 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets, sprinkle with sugar and bake one sheet at a time on the center rack of a 350-degrees-F oven for 17 to 20 minutes.
Playing Around: Ringed Sablés. If you have 2-inch baking rings, use the rings to cut out the rolled dough. Bake the dough – in the rings – on lined baking sheets just as you would the muffin-tin cookies. Leave the rings in place for at least 20 minutes before lifting them off, rinsing and re-using.
World Peace Cookies (makes 36 cookies)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons; 5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits, or an equal amount of store bought chocolate mini-chips
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together and keep close at hand. Working in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and creamy. (If you’d like, you can make the dough by hand using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.) Add both sugars, the salt and the vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated – the dough may look crumbly, but that’s fine. For the best texture, you want to work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.
Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide it in half, gather it together and, working with one half at a time, shape the dough into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or for up to 3 days.
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Have two lined baking sheets at hand.
Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice rounds that are 1/2 – inch thick. (The rounds often crack as you’re cutting them – don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto the cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets leaving about 1 inch of spread space between each round and slide one of the sheets into the oven. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes – they won’t look done nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking
sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.
Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.
Storing: The dough can be made ahead and either chilled or frozen. In fact, if you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking – let it warm just enough so that you can slice the rounds; bake the cookies 1 minute longer. Packed airtight, baked cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months.
“Corked” Breton Galettes (makes about 36 cookies)
You can wrap the logs of dough airtight and refrigerate them for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Unfilled cookies can be kept in covered container for about 3 days, but filled cookies are best eaten the day the jam goes in or the next day; pack in a single layer or in layers separated by parchment or wax paper.
I’m never sure what to do when I offer someone a Breton galette. Should I mention that it’s salty or should I let that be a surprise? I usually opt for surprise, because I remember how happy I was the first time I discovered the cookie. It’s a classic from Brittany, in the west of France, the only part of the country that uses salted butter for everything from fried eggs to elegant desserts.
The cookie is always thick, like a puck; always rich with butter; and al- ways an unexpected cross between chewy and just slightly crunchy. The texture comes from the unusual addition of baking powder and the effect that the leavening has on a cookie this chubby. The flavor comes from basic ingredients — just flour, butter, sugar and eggs — yet finishing one cookie spurs an urge to take another.
Since probably forever, galettes (sometimes called palets, another word for “puck” or “disk”) were plain butter cookies, never decorated, never iced, never fussed over. But things change . . . even classics. One day, wandering around Paris, I came across a pastry shop that had filled galettes. The cookies themselves were traditional, but each had an inden- tation (like a thumbprint cookie) and was a mini container for something soft and sweet. A few inquiries, and I discovered that the indents came not from thumbs, but from neat, more symmetrical wine corks.
As soon as the galettes come from the oven, you press a cork into the center of each cookie. As the cookies cool, a little crust forms on the indentation, and then it’s ready to be filled with whatever pleases you. I usually go for jam, but don’t let my loyalty stand in the way of your creativ- ity. See Playing Around for some ideas.
A word on butter: Since salted butter from Brittany is so much saltier than ours, I use regular butter and add fleur de sel (or sea salt) to the dough.
FOR THE COOKIES
- 2 1/4 cups (306 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 sticks (8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fleur de sel or 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
FOR THE FILLING
- About 3/4 cup (240 grams) thick fruit jam or marmalade
- 1 tablespoon water
TO MAKE THE COOKIES: Whisk the flour and baking powder together. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium-low speed until smooth. Add the yolks one at a time, beating until each one is fully incorporated. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and pulse the machine just until the risk of flying flour passes.
Mix on low speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until the flour is incorporated. The dough will be thick and it will almost clean the sides of the bowl; press a bit between your fingers, and it should hold together.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface, press and gather it together and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a log, about 6 inches long and a scant 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs and freeze for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
WHEN YOU’RE READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter or spray regular muffin tins or use nonstick pans. Have a wine cork at hand (you can also make the indentations with the handle of a wooden spoon).
Working with a sturdy knife, cut one log into about 18 cookies, each about 1/3 inch thick. Drop them into the muffin tins. (You can cut as much of the remaining log as will completely fill both tins now, or cut and bake it later.)
Bake the galettes for 18 to 20 minutes, turning the tins after 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown; the bottoms should be browned as well. Because of the baking powder, the cookies have a tendency to dip in the center as they bake. Happily, the concavity works to the cookies’ advantage — it makes a nice border around the indentation.
Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately plunge the cork (or the handle of a wooden spoon) into the center of each one. Be gentle but firm, and make certain that the indent goes down almost to the base of the cookie. Cool the cookies in the tins, then pop them out when they reach room temperature.
Repeat with the remaining dough, using cool tins.
TO MAKE THE FILLING AND FINISH THE COOKIES: Put the jam in a micro- wave-safe bowl or a small saucepan, add the water and bring to a boil.
Spoon enough jam into each indentation for it to come level with the top of the galette. Refrigerate the cookies for about 30 minutes, just to set the jam. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
DATE-NUT PINWHEELS (makes about 18 cookies)
Growing up in New York City, I remember date-nut bread, date pudding, date-nut cake and cookies with a filling that might have been the date version of Fig Newtons. The dried dates used to make these sweets were an everyday ingredient, as common then as dried cranberries are now. Of course they’re still available, but they and the wonderful recipes they were used in seem to have fallen out of fashion. A shame, because, as I was reminded when I made these cookies, they’re great!
These cookies never went out of style for my friend Oklahoma chef John Bennett, who gave me this recipe. He makes batches to serve with tea or ice cream; for lunch, dinner, snack time or anytime; and for no reason other than that they’re good.
The original recipe calls for slicing the cookies 1/4 inch thick. They are very good that way, but I think they’re even better when you go big and slice them 1/2 inch thick. Cut a few thin and a few thick and decide for yourself. (If you cut the cookies 1/4 inch thick, the baking time will be 11 to 13 minutes.)
A word on stickiness: Dates are sticky by nature and therefore not so easy to pit and chop. You’ll find this recipe quick to make if you buy dates that are already pitted and even quicker if you buy them pitted and chopped. They’re easy to find in the supermarket.
FOR THE FILLING
- 3/4 cup (113 grams) chopped pitted dates
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) finely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or 2 teaspoons orange juice
FOR THE DOUGH
- 1 3/4 cups (238 grams) all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
TO MAKE THE FILLING: Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring, then reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers gently. Stay at the stove, stirring regularly, until the liquid has been absorbed and the dates and nuts are soft, thick and spreadable. Scrape the filling into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Whisk the flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Add the egg and beat for another minute or so, until it’s thoroughly blended in. Turn off the mixer and add the dry ingredients all at once, then pulse the mixer a few times. When the risk of flying flour has passed, mix at low speed until it’s thoroughly incorporated. You’ll have a soft dough that will clean the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and shape it into a rectangle. Cover with another piece of paper and roll the dough until it’s about 12 x 10 inches; slightly larger is better than smaller here. While you’re rolling, stop to peel the sheets of paper away from the dough frequently, so that they don’t get rolled into the dough and form creases. Slide the dough, still between the paper, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or freeze for at least 1 hour.
TO FILL AND ROLL THE DOUGH: Remove the dough from the refrigerator or freezer and leave it on the counter until it’s supple enough to bend without cracking. (This doesn’t take long.)
Peel away the paper on both sides of the dough and return the dough to one of the sheets. Position the dough so that a long side is parallel to you. Using an icing spatula (or the back of a spoon), spread the filling over the dough, leaving about 1 inch of dough bare at the top and about 1/2 inch on the other sides. Starting with the long edge closest to you, and using the paper to help you, roll the dough up into a log, trying to keep it as compact as possible. The ends will be ragged, but that’s fine — they’ll be trimmed before baking.
Wrap the log and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.
WHEN YOU’RE READY TO BAKE: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Unwrap the log, place it on a cutting board and trim away the ragged edges, cutting until you can see spirals of filling. Using a sharp thin knife, slice the log 1/2 inch thick. Don’t worry if there are gaps between the filling and the dough — they’ll fill in as the cookies bake. Place the cookies on the baking sheets, leaving about 11/2 inches between them. If you haven’t used the entire log, return the remainder to the refrigerator.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back after 8 minutes. The cookies will spread and puff and brown lightly; they should still be soft if poked gently. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then gently transfer them to a rack to cool until they are just warm or at room temperature.
If you have more dough, slice and bake, using a cool baking sheet.
You can make the filling up to 3 days ahead and keep it tightly covered in the refrigerator. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or, wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. The cookies are good keepers — pack them into a covered container, and they’ll keep for 4 days or more. The filled log can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 months. They are not good candidates for freezing once baked.